"How Democracies Die" - A book we all should read

Each week Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN’s Global Public Square, recommends another book for me to read. I listen to Fareed because I believe he is one of the smartest, most balanced and intellectually curious journalists of our time. Consequently, each week my reading list grows. When Fareed recommended How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, I moved it to the top of my list

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Hosting Exhibitors: "The Ten Commandments"

If you’ve been producing events for a few years (conferences, conventions, annual meetings, colloquies, etc.) and you’ve started thinking about adding exhibitors to your event as a new revenue stream, may I share a little of my experience with you? As you might know, I’ve been working in the fund development space for a number of years now, helping nonprofits secure sponsors and exhibitors, teaching them how to nurture those relationships into long-term support. But my business, Tamarack Communication, works “across the aisle” as they say (but apparently don’t do) in our nation’s capital. By that I mean that I also represent for-profit corporations and companies that sell products and services to my nonprofit clients! Now, if that sounds a little like playing both ends against the middle, rest assured: It’s just the opposite.

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The Mystery of the Postman, the Detective and the Unrelenting Sewer Flies

Wednesday: Today a detective knocked on my door. What a thrill – a first for me. I had just finished reading Michael Connelly’s newest detective novel, The Late Show, so I was well prepared. When the man (dressed in shorts and tee shirt and wearing a baseball cap) introduced himself as Detective Someone from the Redmond Police, he immediately showed me first his wallet badge and then the badge clipped to his belt. I knew that was the right protocol, because, in The Late Show, Detective Renee Ballard always makes sure to show both of them right away. (See how my reading of contemporary fiction gives me context for real life challenges?)

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Watch TV and Count your Blessings!

Boy, it feels good to watch TV these days! I know, I know – I’ve recently trounced TV programming for offering little uplifting entertainment, as it did in a bygone era. And last August I boldly reported (perhaps “complained”?) that I’d watched 250 commercials in seven hours of television viewing (which was true). I noted that NBC Nightly News aired 34 different product commercials in 30 minutes of programming! In that same article I also reported that, according to my data, 15% of commercial spots are sponsored by pharmaceuticals, which seemed a much smaller percentage than I’d expected.

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Has Fiction No Place in Our Lives?

Oh, for a good, old fashioned soap opera – a mindless, unrealistic, silly daytime TV show one could easily turn away from. You might know what I mean if you’re of an age. In fact, as I recall, in the heyday of soap operas (TV dramas largely sponsored by detergent companies selling to bored housewives), most of us didn’t even have our TVs turned on when “soaps” were airing. And we felt darned good about that. Silly old soaps! Waste of time! Who would watch that?

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A Quiet Sanctuary in a World Gone Bonkers

Drowning in words, overwhelmed by thoughtless tweets and angry posts, consumed by conjecture that spins out of control as the day unwinds, deafened by TV “news reporters” who no longer even try to differentiate between hard truth, allegations, guesses and opinions… That’s communication today. Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk… Say, tell, opine, assert, claim, blather… Not much time for listening. Not much interest in reflection. Noise.

How amazing, then, to be plunged into the world of communication by touch. Tactile talk. Messaging via proximity. Shoulder to shoulder, cheek to cheek, arm in arm, chest to chest – hugging!

That’s right, communication by hug!

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Optimism and Abundance

Let’s kick that “scarcity” perspective for 2017 

Yes, I know this is meant to be a space to talk about communication. On the other hand, what element of human interaction does not involve communication? So I’m giving myself wide latitude here today, and I’m going to share with my readers the bounty – the uplifting, optimistic, promising bounty – I have discovered over the past year in two works that nicely bookend a world perspective based on positive expectations.

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Holiday Goodies from Tamarack Communication

Chanukah begins December 24. Christmas follows on December 25. It’s a time for gifting, and we don’t want to be remiss. So here are a few stocking stuffers and a little gelt to add to your growing pile of presents. We’re not sure we saw everyone’s wish list, but we’re pretty sure these are things everyone desperately wants to know at holiday time.

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No Goals - No Glory

... to paraphrase the U.S. Air Force 

I didn’t mean to misquote the Air Force, but perhaps simply to get your attention. And this is a topic that cries for attention. Nobody wants to do it. Most organizations don’t want to stop their forward momentum to figure out where the heck they’re going. 

Maybe repeating that last phrase would be a good idea: “…stop their forward momentum to figure out where the heck they’re going.” So often small businesses and nonprofits simply continue to move forward, to keep on keeping on, turning the wheels and taking care of business, without taking the time to regroup and reconsider the destination and the resources needed to get there. And, most important, how they’ll measure their progress to the goal.

One of the most common problems I see every week with nonprofits and small businesses is inability to measure performance because no one ever articulated the desired results. How can you measure your “success” when you never described “success”? It’s easy to skip that step, maybe even just “human nature.” I submit, however, that your “organizational nature” will be much improved – and its success measurable – if you will pause to set goals. Specific goals allow for measurement of success, which allows for course correction leading to greater success.

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Words for Counting and Measuring

Less or fewer? Number or amount?

Do you care if you get this right? I’ll assume you do; if not, we’ll catch you next time.

Do you feel a little queasy saying “We found fewer negative responses than positive responses”? Think it might sound a little funny, so you fall back on “less responses”? Or maybe you’ve always thought that “few” couldn’t possibly have an “-er” at the end.

And how about conveniently using “amount” to describe things that are counted when, in fact, they are to be numbered? Doesn’t “amount” cover just about everything. Uh uh.

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